Cleveland co-op brings creativity to the fashion industry

Design Lab Inc, a design co-operative based in Cleveland, enables many designers and artists from across various design sectors to work together and share ideas in a creative...

Design Lab Inc, a design co-operative based in Cleveland, enables many designers and artists from across various design sectors to work together and share ideas in a creative environment.

Design Lab is home to Cloud 9 Boutique, a co-op consisting of 11 Independent Designer Brands and growing, Project Model Academy and Cloud 9 Event & Royal Wedding Planning.

Acting as one entity, the co-op offers services ranging from personal styling, image consultations, private shopping parties, custom clothing, a unique selection of clothing created by Independent Designers both locally and abroad, event planning and training in both modelling and etiquette.

“I started this co-op because I thought it would be a good way to bring various businesses together that could benefit by utilizing each other resources," said Don Heyes, the co-op's founder.

“I was also inspired to create this co-op after visiting a designer friend's studio in Chicago. Within the studio there were different artists all working out of the same space and the creative energy was just crazy. There was a guy building motorcycles, a film producer, a cartoonist, and a fashion designer, all very different, but it worked. I wanted to bring the same energy back to Cleveland."

According to Don, co-operatives help young designers gain recognition. “I am a strong believer that co-ops can play an important role in promoting young designers. In other cities, independent designers or even fashion for that matter is strongly supported by both major retailers and the city. Take Chicago, for example, which has fashion incubators within major retailers, I believe MACY’s is one of the participants that showcase the works of graduating designers and introduces their lines at the retail label. There is nothing like seeing someone, a complete stranger wearing your garment.”

Design Lab also provides internships to high school students with a strong interest in fashion and attending a design school, as well as those students currently enrolled in a fashion related secondary program.

“Many of the labels that are carried within the showroom are local designers and we are able to pair students up with mentors, designers currently working in the field. I believe this will show young designers you don’t have to leave Cleveland in order to become a success and live your dreams. I think any city that has major fashion schools should have a co-op for young designers," said Don.

"Within Cleveland and the surrounding area we have three major fashion schools — Virginia Marti, Kent State and Ursuline College. Fashion in Cleveland is very segregated. I think a co-op will help merge the fashion industry; at least those are my hopes for Cleveland."

Design Lab is involved in a wealth of projects currently. Don Hayes has recently showed his latest collection, Electrik Canary in Detroit, at the Detroit Opera House for the Walk Fashion Show, hosted by Dominique Reighard of America’s Next Top Model. He has also submitted his work to RAW to showcase his work. 

At the end of June, DESIGN LAB hosted its second POP-UP Boutique (CLOUD 9) at the Annual Waterloo Arts Festival. In October the co-op will be hosting its second Annual “FASHION GOES PINK” Charity Fashion Show for Breast Cancer awareness month, with proceeds going to the Nation Breast Cancer Foundation.

Design Lab Inc. "Cleveland's Litte piece of New York" is located in a 2,500 sq. ft. designer showroom with a New York vibe, on the Westside of Cleveland, in close vicinity to the hip shopping destinations of Tremont, Ohio City and Steel Yard Commons.

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